But Wait… There’s More

I have on a number of occasions been in a position to sit with a family while they conferred with a doctor about the difficult diagnosis of their loved one. In those moments it is important for me to listen well to what is said and to help make sure the family is not simply listening with their emotions. In such times it is often very difficult to swallow the news and the pain of the situation can keep us from understanding clearly what is going on.

In times like those, I have witnessed some wise doctors trying to be as plain and simple as possible. I’ve even seen a few instances where they had a nurse come with them or an assistant that might be better at explaining things in a more understandable or accessible way. Its an important role to help them understand, amidst the all of the emotion of the moment, what is really being explained to them.

When Jesus was preparing his disciples for His pending departure, He was trying to prepare them by assuring them that their circumstances, thought they could not understand it yet, would be better. He has assured them of the coming of His helping, comforting Spirit to dwell in them—which is most certainly better.

But Jesus offered more insight:

I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you. (John 16.12-15)

It must have been overwhelming to them. The things Jesus was telling them, though they sounded like amazing promises, were surely strange and uncomfortable for them to hear. But do you see what He promised that the Spirit would do?

The Spirit would guide them into truth and help them to recognize what was and was not from God. He would speak anew to their hearts so many of the things Jesus had said to them already but could not possibly understand.

The Spirit would, according to Jesus’ teaching here, always shine the light on Jesus the Son according to the very will of God the Father. The Spirit would be their means of having an all-the-time and everywhere connection with Jesus. The Spirit would help them see, understand, and process things through the lens of spiritual truth.

So Jesus was promising His disciples that, with the Holy Spirit living within them, they would have an ongoing relationship with God that could not be separated by distance or circumstance… or even by death.

But did you notice how that passage started? He said, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now.” He had imparted to them so many rich, powerful, wonderful truths… but their tender hearts couldn’t stand much more.

Though He taught them much about how things would be, He seems to say, “But wait… there’s more.”

Walking with Jesus—which every one of us as believers in Him are called to do—is a life of hearing that sentiment time and time again.

He has blessed us so incredibly much with life and breath and wonderful people with which to share the journey.

But wait… there’s more.

He has given us the Scriptures, His very Word, to help us know Him.

But wait… there’s more.

He has promised us a home with Him forever without fail.

But wait… there’s more.

He has promised to place His Spirit within us to teach us, guide us, and show us the way.

But wait… there’s more.

How has He lavished His love upon you today?

Wait… there’s more.

A Promise of Better Things

It’s hard to see through painful things.

When we realize that someone dear to us is about to be taken away from us, it’s like our tears distort our vision of the circumstances. We only see the hurt that’s right in front of us and not the comfort, peace, or joy on the other side.

In this extended account of Jesus’ teaching in John 14-16, Jesus is trying to prepare his followers for His pending departure. And the biggest preparation He made was to promise them something better.

Jesus begins this lesson by explaining some things:

I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you. But now I am going to him who sent me, and none of you asks me, “Where are you going?” But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. (John 16.4b-6)

They really didn’t need to know these things while He was sticking around, but, now that He is about to return to the Father, they seem more upset that He is leaving than curious as to where He is going. He knows their hearts are heavy.

But look at the important words He speaks next:

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16.7)

Do you see it? Jesus is trying to get them to see beyond their feelings of loss. He points to the better things to come. So… what is that?

It’s the Holy Spirit that will come and live within each of their hearts in a very powerful way. But the promise cannot be fulfilled until Jesus has gone away.

But still… He assures them it will be better than what they know.

Jesus loves these people that have walked with Him so very many miles. He Has seen them struggle for understanding and wrestle with some very hard truths. He has seen their eyes filled with wonder as they reached back into the basket again and again until all of these thousands of people were completely satisfied with their meal. They had helped pull the grave clothes from Lazarus and tasted the wine at the wedding.

But he assures them of more.

He is leaving, but He will leave with them a promise of better things.

I don’t know what the pain in your life may be today. Maybe it’s the painful reality of a loved one soon departing. Maybe it’s the inevitable end of something you’ve fought so very hard to retain. Maybe it’s just the crashing in upon you by the reality that those sweet moments you have shared simply cannot last forever in this life.

But for you—if indeed you are a follower of Jesus—there is always this great promise of better things yet to come.

It doesn’t make the hurt go away. But it does remind us that the hurt is, even at its very worst… temporary.

I’ll Be Back

It’s one thing to tell people you’ll be back. It’s another thing when you’re talking about your own death.

When Jesus drove the moneychangers and businessmen out of the temple, it was certainly a controversial moment. It stirred a lot of different responses from the people. But the next passage in John 2 (verses 18-22) relay a conversation that was so strange, so significant that it hung in the minds of Jesus’ followers for a very long time.

[Take a moment and read John 2.18-22.]

The Jews—which would have been everyone in the place because they were the only ones allowed to enter this space—asked Jesus an interesting question. They asked what sign he could give for his authority to do such a bold thing.

Jesus pointed them to the greatest sign of His identity as God in the flesh. But He did it in a strange way, a way that would have to soak in over time, a way that would not make sense to most of them for a very long time.

Jesus said these words:

“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2.19)

He was standing in the great temple in Jerusalem that Herod had built for the Jewish people. This is the place that out of which Jesus had just cast the crooks who were defiling it. It had taken 46 years to erect this edifice. It was preposterous to suggest that it could be restored from ruins in 3 days.

Of course, for the One who caused the entire world to exist in 6 days, it doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.

But John offers the commentary of perspective that we need to get the point Jesus was making. John explains:

“But he was speaking about the temple of his body. When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they believed the Scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken.” (John 2.21-22)

John explains to us how Jesus stepped into this place where the people were to approach the God who longed to be known by His people and drove out those who had made a business of their system of worship. Jesus came into the mess of their intense but often insincere religion and brought the clarity of relationship.

And the authority by which He did so was signified in the sign that was yet to come—His own resurrection from the dead. The temple of His own flesh, the dwelling place of the Most High God as He came into our mess, would be destroyed. And three days later He would indeed raise it up.

So, many months before Jesus died on the cross, He pointed to it and said, in a sense,… “I’ll be back.”

But here’s the deal… the disciples remembered and believed.

Will we?

Will we see Him as the God who stepped into our mess?

Will we believe Him—that He has the power to resurrect life out of the mess?

Will we know Him as the God who loved us enough to step into our mess, but too much to leave us there?

Father, open our eyes to see You, our minds to believe You, and our hearts to know You as God—even in the Mess.